Nanotech Trojan horses target and kill brain cancer
Nanoparticles deliver 'death genes' to cancer cells, leaving normal brain tissue healthy
Computerworld - Scientists at Johns Hopkins University are using nanoparticles as Trojan horses that deliver "death genes" to kill brain cancer cells that surgeons can't get to.
The nanoparticles, are biodegradable and deliver the genes, which induce death in cancer cells but don't affect healthy cells. A brain tumor is killed by the so-called "death genes" without damaging healthy brain tissue, which is a normal side effect of other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
"In our experiments, our nanoparticles successfully delivered a test gene to brain cancer cells in mice, where it was then turned on," said Jordan Green, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and neurosurgery at the university's School of Medicine, in a statement. "We now have evidence that these tiny Trojan horses will also be able to carry genes that selectively induce death in cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells healthy."
The treatment is focused on glioblastomas, the most lethal and aggressive form of brain cancer, and has been tested on mice but not on humans.
Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, professor of neurosurgery and a member of the research team, said this method could be used to battle different forms of cancer.
"It is exciting to have found a way to selectively target gene delivery to cancer cells," he said. "It's a method that is much more feasible and safer for patients than traditional gene therapy... We hope our continued experiments will shed light on this so that we can apply what we learn to other scenarios."
According to the American Cancer Society, people between 45 and 54 years old who have glioblastomas have a 17% chance of surviving for five years or more. That survival rate drops to 4% to 6% for people between 55 and 64.
It's not uncommon for cancer researchers to use nanotechnology to battle the disease.
Last fall, Cornell University researchers paired nanoparticles with infrared heat to kill colorectal cancer cells.
Heat has been shown to kill cancer cells but heating up the entire body damages both cancer and healthy cells.
To focus the heat directly on the cancerous tumors, scientists send gold nanoparticles inside the tumor. Then researchers use a near-infrared laser to heat the nanoparticles to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to kill many cancerous cells.
Scientists at MIT also are using nanoparticles, focusing their research on breast cancer. The MIT research team also announced last fall that it has been tackling breast cancer by using nanoparticles to carry chemotherapy drugs, along with a genetic messenger to weaken the cancer's resistance to the medicine.
Another research team at MIT is using nanotechnology to help doctors detect cancer in their patients sooner, increasing their odds of beating the disease.
This article, Nanotech Trojan horses target and kill brain cancer, was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is email@example.com.
- Cosmonauts deploy nanosatellites during spacewalk
- Scientists create self-assembling, working robots
- When astronauts breathe on Mars, they'll thank MIT professor
- Big tech firms back Wi-FAR for remote broadband
- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity closes in on ultimate destination
- Qi wireless charging spec gets more flexibility with distance extension
- NASA upgrades humanoid robot in space
- NASA: Finding life on other planets is within our grasp
- Money talks, and that's all quantum maker D-Wave has to say
- 45 years after moon landing, NASA looks to next giant leap
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- Unlocking the Promise of Demand Sensing and Shaping through Big Data Analytics Many organizations have limited insight into big data. These limitations have significant opportunity costs and can have a negative effect on identifying and...
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will...
- On-Demand Webinar: Mind the Gap! Watch the webinar featuring Bob Janssen, CTO and Co-Founder of RES Software, to start building a solid foundation for business and IT to... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!